Students at Fallon Middle School have collected hundreds of food items as part of a food drive to feed the underprivileged this holiday season.
The school, in partnership with the Alameda County Community Food Bank, launched the drive at the beginning of December and ends Friday.
Students have risen to the challenge of bringing in as much food as they can, said Assistant Principal Kara Holthe. One class has collected nearly 300 food items so far.
“There is a lot of excitement here at Fallon,” said Holthe.
As an incentive, the class that collects the most food items will be rewarded. Instead of throwing the kids a pizza party, said Holthe, the school decided to give the students the opportunity to help others. The winning class will get the chance to go on a field trip to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco where they will help serve food to the city’s homeless and needy populations.
Teachers and administrators see the food drive as a key teachable moment.
“For [the students] to collect food and then also to see how food is used to feed people who do not have the means that their families have, that’s a real world, important connection,” Holthe said. “That is something that we want to impart to our students.”
Although Fallon has participated in the food drive in previous years, Holthe said that enthusiasm for the project is at an all-time high this year because of the opportunity to help those in need.
“We overheard one girl say, 'We want to win so we can see the smiles on their faces when we give them food [at Glide Memorial],'” she said.
Fallon is collecting mostly non-perishable items like canned and packaged goods. The food bank’s other partner agencies are gathering fresh produce and holiday items such as cranberry sauce, ham, greens and stuffing mix.
The food bank serves an increasingly needy population. Since 2007 demand in Alameda County has doubled, said Miranda Everitt, a spokeswoman for the food bank. At least one in six residents of the county now receives food donations, she said.
“This is a vital time for us, as the community comes together to help us serve the growing number of people in need,” said Everitt. “Scores of volunteers are sorting and packing tons of fresh produce and non-perishable staples six days a week.”
The Food Bank is expected to distribute 22 million pounds of food to nearly 300 member agencies across the East Bay and the Tri-Valley area this year.